Let’s face it. We aren’t getting any younger.
Our dogs, however, are getting faster and faster. The courses are getting tougher and tougher. Yet, we are all still getting older. It kinda sucks but such is the reality of modern agility.
So with the new challenges we face in agility like backsides of jumps and long straightaways after technical pieces along with the fact that the dogs just seem to keep getting faster and faster while we keep getting older and older, something new has to happen for each of us.
For me that something new was training differently, handling differently and coming to terms with the fact that I am indeed getting older.
My new handling style is based on what I’ve learned from other systems and trainers from around the world in combination from sound advice from physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons and personal trainers.
Many years ago I learned and competed using a system that required the handler to be somewhat later in cues. Then I got my fast, powerful, big-strided boy and I realized that this position based system did not work for a dog like him. Hence, I learned motion based handling.
Soon I realized that I could not run a course using “motion” if I cannot get to the places I need to be any longer. I started analyzing videos of handlers from Europe who seemed to be able to get to every single obstacle. I soon came to the conclusion that it is not that these handlers are super human but that they are good dog trainers. I trained with many of these people from Europe and put together the key points I learned from them into one cohesive style which allows me to better get ahead on course with minimal wear and tear on my knees or on my dogs’ bodies. The key to great handling is the ability to get ahead. The ability to get ahead is based on trained skills (unless you are young and fit, which is not the topic of this “aging” blog:-).
This puts the responsibility of correctly negotiating the obstacles on the dog rather than on the handler. That means we have to be better dog trainers and then we can TRUST our dogs to perform the obstacles efficiently.
So, for me, aging no longer means fretting about being slower and slower but instead it means I am getting to be a better trainer with each new day. And, most importantly, all the while my dogs are having lots of fun.
A quote that’s been on my personal website for years definitely applies here:
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw
For more information on learning how to handle fast dogs as our own bodies are getting slower, please visit my website:
It will be ready to roll by 2014. Ugh, I’ll be another year older. But so will we all.
To read what others have to say on the topic of Aging, check this out: